Gallup released a new poll this week that examines people’s positions on abortion based on their religious affiliation.
The poll asked people about a series of moral issues, including abortion and doctor-assisted suicide, and then examined their answers based on their religious affiliation. Researchers found major differences among religious groups, with Protestants, Catholics and Mormons taking a pro-life stance and Jews and the non-religious taking a more liberal stance.
Jews and those with no religious preferences have virtually identical views on the morality of abortion, doctor-assisted suicide, gay-lesbian relations and cloning animals. Jews are somewhat less likely than nonreligious Americans to believe having a baby outside of marriage is moral, 68% to 80%.
Mormons, Protestants and Catholics believe that abortion, doctor-assisted suicide and cloning animals are not morally acceptable practices. Mormons are more conservative than Protestants and Catholics on abortion, gay-lesbian relations, doctor-assisted suicide and out-of-wedlock births, but not on cloning animals.
… The United States is one of the more religious western nations, and Americans’ religious identity influences the way they view matters of morality. The Mormon religion and many Protestant faiths promote strict moral codes that frown on abortion and out-of-wedlock births, with those values mostly endorsed by adherents of those religions. Catholic Church doctrine also instructs Catholics how to think about moral issues, but American Catholics’ views on many moral issues, including premarital sex, the death penalty and gay-lesbian relations, do not reflect the church’s positions. Nevertheless, Catholics tend to be more conservative on morality than those with no religion and Jewish Americans.
Mormons were the least likely to say that abortion is morally acceptable (18 percent), followed by Protestants (33 percent) and then Catholics (38 percent), according to the poll. Jewish responders were the most likely to say abortion is morally acceptable (76 percent), with the non-religious at a close second (73 percent).
The poll found that people are less opposed to doctor-assisted suicide, a growing threat in the U.S. The poll showed 30 percent of Mormons, 43 percent of Protestants and 47 percent of Catholics saying it is morally acceptable. Those who are Jewish and non-religious called the deadly procedure morally acceptable 73 percent and 77 percent of the time, respectably.
The poll confirms research from previous studies showing the influence religion has on people’s moral beliefs. The Christian tradition teaches that human lives are intrinsically valuable because they are created in the image of God, and this belief has led to a strong Christian presence in the pro-life movement.
A 2010 Pew poll found a strong correlation between religion and abortion:
On the issue of abortion, 26% overall say religion is the most important influence on their opinion, including 45% among abortion opponents.
Just 9 percent of those who support legalized abortion say religion affected their conclusion about it.
Religion is more influential on abortion views compared with other hot political topics as just 19 percent say religion influenced their stance on the death penalty, only 10 percent said it influenced their stance on poverty programs, 7 percent on immigration issues and just 6 percent on the environment.